The latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll shows more registered Republicans now would prefer Gov. Tom Corbett step aside and another party member seek the office in 2014 than believe he is the right candidate to carry the banner for the party on next year’s ballot.
According to the poll, 44 percent think the first-term governor should step aside, while slightly fewer, 42 percent, believe he should run for a second term. The remaining 14 percent said they weren’t sure.
Bill Urbanski, chairman of the Republican Party of Luzerne County, said while people he speaks to “lament the poll numbers are down,” they’re committed to backing Corbett for another term. And so is Urbanski, who said he believes Corbett needs to get his message out better and stop letting polls and opponents smear him.
“I think Corbett’s biggest problem is he’s not much of a politician,” Urbanski said. “He’s not out there telling people about all the good things he’s done.”
The numbers were actually the bright spot for the governor in the poll that showed only 19 percent rating his performance as “good” or “excellent,” which is slightly up from the 17 percent that said the same in the August poll the college’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs conducted.
That rate is still less than half the approval rating his two predecessors had at this point in their first terms. Ed Rendell was at about 40 percent in the fall of his third year while Tom Ridge was at about 55 percent at the same point.
Democrats gave Corbett scathing poor performance numbers but Republicans’ unhappiness also came through. Only 34 percent of Republican responders rated his performance as “good” or “excellent,” and only 37 percent said they think he deserves to be re-elected.
Party leaders’ support
But those numbers are doing nothing to dissuade the state’s Republican Party leaders from shying away from their commitment to the governor.
“Gov. Corbett has kept his promises to lead our state responsibly and within our means. He is 100 percent committed to running for reelection, and the Republican Party is 100 percent behind him,” said Valerie Caras, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Republican Party.
Corbett wasn’t the only elected official with struggling approval numbers.
The poll showed 29 percent of respondents rating Sen. Bob Casey’s performance as “good” or “excellent” and 22 percent giving Sen. Pat Toomey those ratings. Both scores were similar to the results of the August poll.
President Barack Obama had 39 percent of respondents rate his performance “good” or “excellent.” That’s up from 34 percent in the summer poll.
Those surveyed were also asked to rank what they believe is the top issue facing Pennsylvania. The economy/unemployment received 22 percent, followed closely by schools and school funding at 21 percent. Those issues are being linked to Corbett’s policies by the state’s Democrats.
“Pennsylvanians are continuing to reject Tom Corbett’s failed record. He has sunk Pennsylvania’s job growth to 43rd in the country, cut millions from our schools and repeatedly insulted Pennsylvanians,” said Marc Eisenstein, a spokesman for the state’s Democratic Party. “It is no surprise that Pennsylvania is ready for a change.”
Urbanski said he didn’t believe Corbett would hurt candidates lower down the ballot and neither does Lance Stange, the campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton.
“Polls are merely a snapshot in time, and the 2014 general election is more than a year away,” Stange said. “Lou Barletta will be running his own race, as he always has, based on his record of standing up for what’s right and fighting for the people back home in Pennsylvania. That’s why they sent him to Washington, that’s exactly what he’s been doing, and that’s what he will continue to do.”
The poll surveyed 628 registered Pennsylvania voters Oct. 22-27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points. Of the 628 polled, 231 were Republicans and the margin of error for the Republican Party-specific questions is plus or minus 6.4 percentage points.